Christmas Cards

Although it could not compete with the speed of email today, the 1800's nevertheless experienced a revolution in communication that played an important role in creating the tradition of the Christmas greeting card.  Helped by the new railway system, the public postal service made corresponding a popular past time.  In England, Sir Henry Cole recognized the advantage of a more efficient mail service and initiated the practice of sending Christmas greeting cards to friends.

The first card was designed by J.C.Horsley as a commercial endeavor.  One thousand copies were sold in London, and soon others followed suit.  An English artist, William Egley, produced a popular card in 1849. Louis Prang, a German born printer, working from his shop in Roxbury, Massachusetts, printed his first American cards in 1875. Even more important than his printing was the fact that he did more than anyone else to popularize the cards by instituting nationwide contests for the best Christmas designs, which were awarded cash prizes.Great Barrier Reef

Christmas Cards

Christmas Cards

 

Adding to the popularity of Christmas cards was the "penny post," created by the British Postal System. This resulted in an inexpensive way to correspond with large numbers of friends, and as printing methods improved, Christmas card production increased.

From the beginning the themes have been as varied as the Christmas customs worldwide.  Traditionally, Christmas cards showed religious pictures - Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus, or other parts of the Christmas story. Today, pictures are often jokes, winter pictures, Father Christmas, or romantic scenes of life in past times.



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